Smell the pumpkin spice in the air? Yes, it’s that time of year when many consumer product brands jump on this holiday flavor. It’s so prevalent now we all joke about it, but they still do it. And there’s a good reason for that.
We don’t mean pumpkin spice, the flavor – that sells too – we mean seasonal marketing.
Are you doing seasonal marketing? There are good reasons why you should, even as a small business. These kinds of promotions help you get more attention and boost sales.
If you’re planning to do your own version of pumpkin spice, it’s time to start. Let’s dive in to why it works and how to get started.
Why big brands use seasonal marketing
You might have noticed big brands like Oreo cookies have a new flavor every time you visit the supermarket. Some are a little strange, but we bet they attract plenty of buyers.
The point is these big consumer product brands are constantly refreshing their products, introducing new variations, and saying “Hey, look at me. I’m a new version you’ve never tried!”
They could just keep making the same cookie year after year. They’ve been making them since 1912 after all! But tastes change and consumers like to try new things. So while the original flavor is still around and still popular, the new flavors get attention from people who’ve never tried Oreos or who haven’t had them in a while. This keeps sales from getting stagnant.
Bottom line, big brands shift their marketing seasonally to…
- Boost sales
- Attract new (or dormant) customers
- Temporarily refresh the brand without altering its identity
- Humanize the brand and connect with customers
- Gain a positive association with holiday happiness
Why seasonal marketing works for small business too
The benefits aren’t just for the big guys in the market. Small companies can grow sales with it too.
We know what you’re thinking: “Cookies are fun products. I’m doing contracting work or plumbing. Customers don’t call me during Christmas unless it’s an emergency, so why would this work for me?”
Seasonal marketing involves MUCH more than just Christmas (see below) and yes, it will be worth it for your small business. Here’s why:
- It gives you a good reason to reach out to new clients or re-connect with old ones
- It shows customers you care
- It sets you apart from competitors
- It boosts your visibility and brings in new business
There’s no reason NOT to do seasonal marketing. Especially when it makes marketing easier for your business. Yes, we said easier.
How promoting seasonally makes marketing easier
One person on our team used to help with marketing for a pet store chain. Each year, the agency she worked for and the client would sit down and decide on the monthly promotional themes for the entire year.
There were the obvious themes like Halloween in October and Christmas/Hanukkah in December. For other months they’d use pet holidays like Pet Dental Health Month in February.
Once the calendar was set, the agency did the same tasks every month but adjusted them to fit the theme. In October, they printed the in-store flyer with pet Halloween costumes, published a blog post on Halloween pet safety tips, sent out an email newsletter with the tips and a few products, and ran a social media photo contest for pets in costume.
Every month, they’d publish, print or promote in the same way, but with a different theme. Everyone knew their part in putting this together and it worked like a machine.
This made marketing very consistent and very effective. It also made it easier.
Once you have a system in place, it’s much easier to keep it going, right?
We use this type of system for our monthly clients, and you can do the same.
4 Main Steps to Seasonal Promotions
- Choose the holiday or seasonal promotions that make the most sense for your business. Start twice a year until you’re comfortable, then make it quarterly or monthly.
- Pick the tactics you’re going to use every time. It can be 2 steps or 10, just set a process you’re comfortable with.
- Adjust for the next theme and repeat.
Whether you carry this out yourself or get digital marketing help, once you set up the process, it gets easier each time.
Seasons or holidays to consider
Everyone thinks of Christmas, but there are many more options based on holidays, seasons and other events.
Here are just a few to choose from:
Seasons of the year
- Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
- January – New Year’s Eve, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February – Valentine’s Day, President’s Day
- March – St. Patrick’s Day
- April – April Fool’s Day, Easter, Earth Day
- May – Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day
- June – Father’s Day
- July – Independence Day
- September – Labor Day
- October – Columbus Day, Halloween
- November – Veterans Day, Thanksgiving
- December – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve
Other U.S. Events
- The Super Bowl in February
- Spring Break in March/April
- Tax Day and student grad season in April
- Back-to-School season in August
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November
Some industries also have their own holidays, including the pet industry, healthcare and many others. Search for your industry + holidays to see what might come up.
Picking the right holidays
If you’re only using seasonal promotions a couple times a year, it may be hard to choose.
- Which holidays or seasons align best with my product or service?
- What do my customers care about?
If your business offers carpet cleaning, for example, the Spring-cleaning season would be a natural fit for you.
If you’re a home contractor, perhaps you can offer a promotion to install the appliances they often buy around President’s Day or rehab their kitchen. Another idea is to offer to build outdoor kitchens or patios in time for Father’s Day or before summer begins.
If you sell products, then of course Christmas should be on your list. But what about a personal holiday like birthdays? If you have an email list, perhaps you can offer a discount or goodie on their birthday.
The possibilities are endless. Just keep it simple and start small. Before you know it, you’ll be running seasonal promotions like a pro.
If you need ideas for your business, let us know.